Have you really ever thought about how happy you are? I guess on a day-to-day basis, we can pretty much determine whether our day was a good one–that makes us happy. Right? But are you as happy as you could be? Are you as happy as you want to be? Do you even know what makes you happy? Have you ever really thought about it?
Some time ago I heard very good things about a New York Times bestselling book by Gretchen Rubin titled The Happiness Project.
Let me begin by saying, The Happiness Project made me ‘happy’ just by reading it.
It’s a story about a woman’s yearlong undertaking to unearth her own meaning of happiness and attempt to incorporate more happiness into her life.
The funny thing about this book is that Gretchen Rubin will tell you right from the start that she wasn’t terribly unhappy when she began her enterprising misson. She wasn’t depressed or going through a divorce or even a mid-life crisis.
One rainy day in New York City, as Gretchen sat on the city bus, she realized two things: she wasn’t as happy as she could be, and her life wasn’t going to change unless she made it change. In that moment, on that crowded bus, she decided to dedicate one year to becoming a happier person.
And one important thing to mention is that Gretchen didn’t resort to terribly drastic measures during her year-long quest. She didn’t move to a foreign country (a-la-Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love), or begin fasting, or learn Zen meditations.
Of course happiness is very subjective, as we all know. What I liked about the book is that Gretchen’s narrative is her own account of exactly how she integrated her findings and her research to guide the choices in her daily life.
Rubin’s extensive research is taken from the examination of hundreds of excerpts written by philosophers and thinkers–from the likes of Aristotle, Epicurious, and Benjamin Franklin, to Malcolm Gladwell and Oprah.
“A ‘happiness project’ is an approach to changing your life. First is the preparation stage, when you identify what brings you joy, satisfaction, and engagement, and also what brings you guilt, anger, boredom, and remorse. Second is the making of resolutions when you identify the concrete actions that will boost your happiness. Then comes the interesting part: keeping your resolutions.” –Gretchen Rubin
I cannot begin to summarize this amazing book, which is chocked-full of thought-provoking information. But one of the author’s conclusions I found extremely interesting is: striving toward goals and striving to live up to resolutions each day provides an atmosphere of growth that is very important to happiness.
From beginning to end, this book gets you thinking about choices. Are your choices creating happiness? THINK HARD–because as Gretchen Rubin reminds us all:
“The days are long, but the years are short.” –Gretchen Rubin
P.S. Please don’t ask to borrow my book, I’m embarrassed to say that I have marked it up–to the point of no return. For me, this is always the sign of an exceptional read.